Recognizing the significance of access to information the UNESCO declared 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). The 2021 theme for the IDUAI highlights the role of access to information laws and their implementation to build back strong institutions for the public good and sustainable development, as well as to strengthen the right to information and international cooperation in the field of implementing this human right.
In reiterating this message with UNESCO and to ensure the fundamental right to information prioritizing the 2030 goals of the Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) hosts a webinar in two sessions with an expert panel focusing on the Right to Information (RTI) in Sri Lanka and the South Asian region.
The six member panel consisted of Mr. Toby Mendel, Director, Centre for Democracy and Law, Canada, Ms. Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, Commissioner, RTI Commission of Sri Lanka, Mr. Zahid Abdullah, Federal Information Commissioner at Pakistan Information Commission,Mr. Rohana Hettiarachchie, Executive Director of Peoples Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL)/General Secretary of Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL),Mr. Anushan Kapilan Lead researcher for PublicFinance.lk(Verité Research),Mr. Venkatesh Nayak, Coordinator of the Access to
Information Programme,Commonwealth Human Rights initiative,India , Moderator, Mr. Javid Yusuf,Attorney at Law Sri Lanka’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
The panelists met in two sessions on 30th September 2021 at 12 noon speaking on the topics of “Making the political establishment accountable to RTI” and “RTI and public funds”. The panelists made presentations on the following; Overview of RTI in South Asia in making the political establishment accountable to RTI, RTI rulings in advancing governance in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, RTI in elections and exposing corruption, RTI and public funds and using RTI to protect public funds in India and the current challenges, respectively.The panels were followed by Q&A sessions moderated by Journalist, Kamanthi Wickremasinghe.
The webinar was participated by over 50 members from across the region and the session was live streamed
on SLPI’s Facebook Page.